I am not lost…

September 6, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: THE SCATTERED AND THE DEAD by L.T. Vargus and Tim McBain

I’ve been on the mailing list for this pair for a while now (I honestly don’t remember where I found them any more, or when) and I’m sure this book has been on my Kindle for just as long. I’m always up for a good look into post-apocalyptic nightmares, zombies, you know, whatever the end of the world brings. Everyone has their own view and it’s absolutely fascinating. So this seemed to be right up my alley. If nothing else, I always like to give any author the benefit of the doubt for a book, if I’ve ended up on their mailing list and they haven’t irritated me too much during whatever emails I’ve received. (It’s happened, y’all. But that’s a post for another day.)

This started out with so much promise.

I distinctly remember saying to myself that any book which used the phrase “fuck that noise” as a standard piece of dialogue was okay in my books. It’s familiar. It’s the way I speak. (For better or worse.) It gives a sense of realism to it all. It’s the same reason I’ve always admired Adam Rosner’s acting in his TribeTwelve series; this is what it looks like when a real person gets dropped into a horror movie. But…the trouble is that the book’s title is a little too close to the truth. This is a very scattered book.

I don’t have a problem with multiple viewpoints, and for a book like this, I think that the difference of how each person will handle it is important. No one is going to handle the situation the same as the next, and it’s good to see all of that. The trouble is, there are a lot of POV characters in this story. A lot. Again, this is coming from a guy who doesn’t have any trouble following Song of Ice and Fire. With ASoIaF, at least all of the places have a tendency to be separate. The Wall and King’s Landing are widly different, and the Dothraki across the way are different still. But many of Vargus and McBain’s characters are all in and around western Pennsylvania, or if they’re not, very little is made to distinguish where they are. (Again, end of the world. All the wrecks look alike.)

What this also means is that none of our characters get developed particularly well–and half of the ones who do, become victim to the world around them. There were probably…two characters I really cared about. One dies and the other has no resolution to the plot line. While I know that there are other books in this series, the author has to be willing to give something in order to make the reader want to come back for more. Simply “I want to know what happens” won’t necessarily cut it when the reader starts with Information Piece 1/100, and ends with 1, 2, and 3. I have too many books on my shelf waiting to be read for that kind of nonsense. It’s not a cliffhanger; I’ve never gotten to the cliff. I got a bit closer and I’ve been promised that the view is terrifying, but it’s been three hours of walking and I still can’t see the edge.

I might have gotten a little carried away, but I hope you followed me.

The trouble is, the characters who do have some interest are pretty well written. It’s clear that there is talent in the writing duo, and it just feels like they have too many stories to tell and not enough focus to get any of them far enough to count. It was also a disappointment that more of them didn’t seem to meet up. With all the separate paths, it would have been rewarding to see more of them intersect, even if the characters didn’t meet. Just seeing evidence of the others would have sufficed.

There is also the matter of a character, who I won’t name because of 1) spoilers and 2) my bad memory forgetting what it is, who really just creeps me out. I truly don’t know why that person is there, I don’t know what purpose the characters serves, other than to show that there are sick and troubled people in the world doing sick and troubled things. The character appears to have no connection to any kind of plot, nor is the person a sympathetic character. It is not often I have wished to see a character die in a fire, but this one did the trick. Using that kind of writing for a purpose is one thing. Gratuitous inclusion is another, and I don’t need that floating around my life.

I’m not sure if I’m going to read any of the rest. This is book 1.0, and I got 0.5 from their mailing list as well, which I may pick up. Reading the description of books 1.5 and 2.0 haven’t really compelled me to spend any money on them when, again, I have a myriad of books to read already which I’ve already paid for. This is really a 2.5, but for the purposes of Goodreads et al, I’m willing to roll it up just because the writing is well done.

Rating: **1/2 – Almost Worth a Look

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